Five years ago, Richter Belmont, the latest in the Belmont lineage and the one destined to be a Vampire Hunter, defeated Dracula in a brutal battle which nearly cost him the love of his life, Annette, and her sister, Maria. Now, Richter has suddenly vanished, Dracula's castle has mysteriously reappeared, and Maria, now a young woman, sets off to find Richter. Alucard, the son of Dracula, is awakened from his eternal slumber after this large shift in power, and enters into the castle to find some answers and confront his own father.
Symphony of the Night is a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood. Unlike the previous installments of the series, the game is set in a castle which the player can explore freely with many different paths, although often items in certain areas need to be found that will allow passage to others. The action-based gameplay incorporates now strong RPG elements. The hero receives experience points for defeating enemies, gains levels and becomes more powerful. There is also money to be found in the game, and various accessories to buy. In a separate screen, players need to equip attack weapons, shields and other items. Magic plays an important role, as well as secondary weapons and a large amount of "special moves" that are executed similar to advanced one-on-one fighting games.
The Saturn release adds two new areas to the castle (the Underground Garden and the Haunted Path), a third playable character (Maria), and a few new remixed music tracks. However, it sacrifices a few of the graphical effects from the PlayStation version, particularly true transparencies. All other releases are based on the PlayStation version, and do not feature these changes.